Wartorn Yemen teetering on the edge of famine, aid agencies warn


A growing number of babies and children are dying of malnutrition in Yemen, aid agencies warn, as the conflict between Houthi rebels and government forces continues.

The western Asian nation of Yemen is teetering on the edge of famine and aid agencies warn there will be catastrophic consequences for the very young caught up in the conflict.

The 16-month conflict between Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government, backed by a Saudi-led military coalition, has displaced more than 2.7 million people and killed more than 6000.

Video released by Save the Children has given a rare glimpse inside an intensive care unit at Al-Sabeen Hospital in the country's capital Sana'a, where medics are treating acutely malnourished babies and young children.

It showed babies as young as three suffering from malnutrition.

In the country, one in three children under the age of five is suffering from acute malnutrition.

Few families can make it to a functioning hospitals safely, and for those that do, problems such as power cuts continue to cause chaos.

"Often (hospitals) do not have enough fuel to simply run their backup generators,"Save the Children Australia's humanitarian advocacy and policy advisor Sarah Ireland said.

"So what that means is life saving equipment, like incubators for babies, do not always function properly.

"Save the Children has seen the impact of this, and that is children and babies dying."

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations calculated that nationwide, more than 14 million people were in desperate need of food.

As supplies dwindle and prices skyrocket, more people are moving perilously close to acute malnutrition.

"Cooking gas in the country is now 76 per cent more expensive," Ms Ireland said.

"And food is 60 per cent more expensive. And many families simply cannot afford this."

Save the Children Australia is calling on the Australian government to commit additional funds to the humanitarian effort.

"We also need to ensure that the Australian government is putting pressure on all sides of the conflict to abide by international humanitarian law and ensure that human rights are upheld," Ms Ireland said.

"This means that we need to ensure that people are not targeting schools and health facilities. And ensuring civilians are protected."

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